The holiday season is all about celebrating, togetherness, and indulging—but doing so in moderation. We’re heading into the holiday months starting with Halloween through New Year’s. That’s nearly twelve weeks of parties full of hors d’oeuvres, treats, and alcohol. Those calories add up fast, and it’s not always so easy to burn them off again.
1 – Health Goals
Plan your weekly food intake and allow some treats into that plan. Create a tradeoff: for example, allow yourself two cookies at every holiday party but avoid the alcohol. Focus on specific attainable goals and follow through rather than a potentially harmful mindset of dropping two sizes by Valentine’s Day.
2 – Routine
Create and stick to a regular routine of exercise and sleep as part of your health goals. Getting enough sleep has also been associated with less weight gain. Practice good sleep hygiene, like turning off electronics in the bedroom and avoiding bingeing at night. It can be tempting to cozy up and hibernate the entire time you are off from work during the holidays, and, but stick to your routines as mentioned in No. 1, and continue to exercise every day. Making exercise a daily habit won’t even feel like a chore any longer, but rather a built-in part of your day. Wearable fitness trackers are a great way to get motivated.
3 – Alcohol
So many choices: wassail, martinis, wine, rumchata, spiked eggnog … they all sound delicious, but they have little to no nutritional value and contribute to excess weight gain. Instead, try having a club soda with a lime twist to help cut calories and remain well hydrated.
4 – Portion Control
Eat a small, healthy meal before party time to help you from unconsciously snacking all night. Something full of fiber or protein are solid options that will keep you fuller for longer and help maintain a healthy weight because high protein diets are associated with greater satiety. Great options include: roasted chicken or turkey, hummus with vegetables, quinoa, lentils, or beans.
5 – Careful Indulgence
Allow yourself a small portion of something you’re craving can prevent overindulging later. But if you find you’re still craving a few more bites of your favorites, daydreaming about pleasant activities or distracting yourself with just about any activity can reduce the intensity of food cravings.
Choose the smaller salad plate instead of a tray-like one f you want to try out the scintillating mac and cheese or other rich holiday dish. Using smaller plates can actually make us feel fuller with less food, because the brain associates a big white space on the plate with less food.
6 – Don’t Stress
Trying not to overstress during the holidays can feel like exercise on its own. Unfortunately, a lot of stress can trigger increased eating and cravings, especially for sugary carbohydrates. Try to avoid emotional eating. Instead, nix the stress and allow yourself to be more present in your daily life through yoga, deep breathing, massage therapy, and meditation. Stay focused during the holidays and stick to your daily routines so that you don’t lose track of your health goals.
7 – Positive Outlook
Do what you can to remain positive. Just get back on track the next day if a bad one comes along. Don’t punish yourself for indulging or demonize certain foods or punish yourself for indulgences. Remind yourself that you can control your eating by making healthy choices and that you’re proud of achieving your goals for the day. This can reframe your relationship with food—positive expectations are associated with weight loss. While it may feel silly at times, try telling yourself at least one positive affirmation per day. A healthy mind leads to other healthy habits.